Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Slate

January 9, 2013

Slate: The Oxygen network thinks young women want horrible TV

WASHINGTON — I'm always suspicious when an entertainment executive claims to know precisely what young women are looking for. But there was something particularly infuriating about the pitch given by Rod Aissa, senior vice president for original programming and development at Oxygen Media, at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., this week. Apparently what I've been looking for all my life is a Birkin bag, my mother to judge my teen-age dating decisions and a man to pop the question after humiliating me.

I have no problem with the idea, as Aissa put it, that "a viewer who is living life on their own terms . . . wants to watch shows that are fun, have emotion and passion, but yes, they have to have key ingredients of high stakes and drama." I don't know what "living life on their own terms" means exactly, but fun, emotion, passion, high stakes and drama are definitely what I like in my TV. It's why I cried when Ben Wyatt proposed to Leslie Knope on "Parks and Recreation," and why I'm so excited for audiences to get in front of FX's new drama "The Americans," which stars Keri Russell as a Soviet spy embedded in 1980s Washington. It's the rest of Aissa's argument that had the critics sitting around me worried that I was about to break out in rage-hives.

Because check out Oxygen's lineup: shows with names like "Fat Girl Revenge," which follows women who "have a score to settle" with people who made fun of them at their prior weights. (Fun!) Then there's "Find Me My Man," a matchmaking show based on the idea that we've all got an Ideal Husband waiting for us out there somewhere, and the reasons we're not meeting him are all about us. (Emotion!) There's "Too Young To Marry," which is based on the idea that it's really hilarious to make fun of teen-agers who think that they've found True Love. (Passion!) And finally, there's "Propos'd," a combination of a prank show and a proposal program in which, as Aissa put it, men who are dating "fiancezillas" have their turn to "get a little revenge, a little payback time for her. She'll get the ring, but in a very, very surprising original way." (High stakes!) The clip of "Propos'd" they showed us featured a man who staged an arrest so that his girlfriend would be terrified she was about to lose him when he finally popped the question. And that's not even to mention the already-airing "All My Babies' Mamas," a reality show about a young man and the host of women seeking child support from him. (Drama.)

It's news to me that as a young lady, I'm obsessed with past slights, single because I'm a flawed, gross person, or that some day, I'll deserve to be punished for getting married. If that's living life on my own terms, I'd rather not.

Rosenberg writes about culture and television for Slate's XX Factor. She also contributes to ThinkProgress and theatlantic.com. @AlyssaRosenberg

1
Text Only
Slate
  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 16, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 11, 2014

  • A man with amnesia taught us how memories become personal

    Although not as celebrated as the late American amnesiac H.M., for my money K.C. taught us more important and poignant things about how memory works. He showed how we make memories personal and personally meaningful. He also had a heck of a life story.

    April 7, 2014

  • Investing more money in tornado research would be a disaster

    This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would require National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funding to focus on improving forecasts of "high impact weather events" like tornadoes and hurricanes "for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy."

    April 3, 2014

  • Hate With Friends, the fun new Facebook tool

    Hating movies, earworms, conventions of grammar, clothing brands, diet fads - you get the twinkle of pleasure without the glob of guilt, or the cold brush of fear. A Coldplay song doesn't know you hate it.

    April 2, 2014

  • dog-sunglasses.jpg Do animals have a sense of humor?

    Right now, in a high-security research lab at Northwestern University's Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics, scientists are tickling rats. Their goal? To develop a pharmaceutical-grade happiness pill. But their efforts might also produce some of the best evidence yet that humor isn't something experienced exclusively by human beings.

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_zuckerberg.jpg The logic of Facebook's multibillion-dollar shopping spree

    Yet again, Facebook has spent a gaudy sum of money to buy a hot startup. This time, it's virtual reality pioneer Oculus VR, at a purchase price of $2 billion. And don't be surprised if Mark Zuckerberg continues on his buying spree.

    March 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140325-AMX-BARISTA251.jpg Coffee's third wave? The Apple to Starbucks' Microsoft

    Do you remember when Starbucks was cool? It opened in Seattle in the 1970s as a local specialty roaster, a trendy alternative to the prevailing generic swill. But the price of conquest is cachet. What was once novel — the warm décor, the gentle music, the faux-Italian lingo — has become banal. Today's coffee snobs would rather snort Sanka than set foot inside a Starbucks

    March 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • Why our brains just cannot let this mystery go

    Why should the story of Flight 370 grip us so? This mystery seems almost designed to arouse some fundamental parts of our brain.

    March 25, 2014